Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"I Don't Feel Tardy:" Kairos vs. Chronos -- Experiencing Time

Lessons Learned in High School:  Teachers do not think it's funny when you look down at your hands while looking confused and saying, "Funny. I don't feel tardy."

It seems appropriate that, in this season of honoring the dead, that I speak to you about the concept of time.

All my life, I've had this experience of time as fluid. I bet you have, too, you just maybe haven't thought of the words to explain it. What I'm talking about is how, when you're having fun, time just seems to fly by. And, when you're at work, time can just drag on and on and 30 minutes seems like for-freaking-ever!

Maybe this is one reason why I've never been cut out for the 8-5 work schedule that the entire rest of the world seems to operate on. I worked as a temp in the office sector for a while and on those days when things are just dragging so slow, I couldn't bring myself to do anything but answer the phone. Oh, all those hours I spent just trying to look like I was doing something so my bosses would leave me alone. How I'd love to have all those hours back, now, to use as I live, now. I mean sure, I made money, but I was also just wasting my and my employers' time. I was very ingenious at finding ways to do nothing, while still looking like the diligent employee I was expected to be. 

In short, no one was getting what they wanted.

Awhile ago, I read something in Jung  regarding different kinds of time. Namely, Kairos versus Chronos. Chronos is the concept we're most familiar with. Chronos is clock time. This is an example of living by clock time: I get up at 6:30 am so I can eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, drive and be at work by 8am. At 10 am, I get a 15 minute break in which I have time to pee, grab a soda and have a cigarette. At noon, I get an hour lunch where I have 30 minutes to eat and 30 minutes to dream about what I'm going to do when I get out of this hell-hole. And so on and so forth. 

Chronos tells us that we eat at noon because that's when we have to eat. We go to bed by 10 pm, so we can get enough sleep so we won't be falling on our faces at work the next day. With Chronos, all sorts of things can throw our day out of whack. A wreck on the highway makes us late to work which gets us yelled at. A bout of insomnia makes us useless after 2 pm the next day, but we've still got to stay at work, miserable, until 5pm because that is what is expected of us. 

John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," and this concept of "clock" time assumes that what we call "life" will never happen. Children won't get sick. Tires on cars won't go flat. Alarm clocks won't get themselves reset by a storm in the middle of the night.

In short, Chronos is a pain in the butt.

For some time now, I've been able to experience time in the sense of Kairos. Kairos "is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment," the supreme moment or "soul time." It is the place where "time" and "destiny" meet. It is where a person does the things of life when they "feel" right. I wake up, not at 6:30 am, but whenever my body feels rested enough. I eat lunch, not at noon because that's the only time I can, but whenever I feel hungry. And, if I don't feel hungry, I don't eat because I know that, when my body does get hungry, I can always stop what I'm doing and mosey on over somewhere for a bite. I don't go to bed at 10 pm. I can stay up and be productive as long as I don't feel tired. When I feel tired, I sleep. I don't need to stress about this project I'm doing that I can't give enough time to. I don't need to feel pressure to perform if I'm feeling sub-par.
My relationship with Kairos never ceases to amaze me. Even hours from home, I can be exactly where I am needed to give a little help at just the right time. Last week, I went to visit my father who lives about 2 hours drive from me. There's a little bar in my hometown that I hang out at that's very similar to the old television show "Cheers." I wasn't planning on going there while I was visiting, but I felt Kairos pulling me. I was able to go and, in an amazing bit of serendipity, I was able to not only give some mama-type support to a friend, but to and lend a shoulder, a friendly ear and a bit of counselling to some ladies as their close friend died.

I know that this world is not conducive, at all, to following Kairos and I so wish it was. I understand that not everyone has this option, right now, of living off "soul" time, but I'd like to see the world go more that way. Even in the job sphere, there's a, idea and concept of this, floating below the surface called "flextime." So the idea is out there, it's not as commonly embraced as I think it should be.

I wish we could just all go "wherever the wind takes us."

Wouldn't that be nice to live our lives on our own time, by our personal time table? Because of the things that I have happened to me, I am now able to live like this. Sure, I still deal with clock time every now and again. Banks still are only open at certain times and I have friends that wouldn't appreciate a phone call to hang out at 2:00 am. But in general, Kairos and I are flowing right along, now.

Maybe I'm way off base, for you, and Chronos works for you. Maybe scheduling time for yourself to be creative before the kids wake up gives you the quiet you need to be your most productive. Personally, clock time and schedules never really worked out for me because it didn't allow for life to flow and unfold organically. If Chronos is your friend, I'm a bit jealous of you, I must say. Chronos people seem to operate better within this world than Kairos people.

Maybe one day, the world will understand Kairos people. It's already going that way with online banking and Netflix and other such "all hours" type companies.

So, what is your experience with time? Do you seem to have enough to do what you'd like to, or are you rushing around trying to get everything accomplished? Does Chronos work for you, or would you like to maybe reorganize your life to let Kairos in for a time? Is there time that you could let Kairos in without throwing your life into too much chaos? How about a Kairos weekend?

Ah, my lovelies. Let me hear back from you about time and your experience with it. Do you feel you have "enough"?

And please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Big Dreams in Detail

Hello, my lovelies. Today, I'd like to talk to you about dreams. We all have them and that's why most of you are visiting this site. You have big, creative dreams and you want to live them. That's why I'm here, to help you along on your journey.

In your sketchbook or journal, this week, I want you to write down your big dreams. I want you to list them, give a voice to them, play with them in your head and embrace them. If time, money, age, education and everything else in the world weren't a factor, what would you want to do?

When you write your list, do so in a way that makes you happy. Write it down in your favorite color pen or draw little pictures around your list. Add glitter or cut some pictures out of magazines and collage them around your words. Make this list something that you're going to want to look at again, from time to time, because that's what I want you to do.

Whenever you feel like you've lost your direction, whenever you feel depressed, whenever this world seems to be kicking you more than helping you, I want you to look at your list and daydream. For now, that's all I want you to do. I want you write down your dreams and let your mind run wild with your fantasies. 

I am a big fan of the singer Meat Loaf. I've seen him in concert and I even own tee shirts. I love this man and his music. The song "Good Girls Go to Heaven" was an anthem of mine in high school and a particular lyric strikes me at this time. 
"You don't have a lot, but it's all that you've got
And you can turn it into more than it seems
Just give it a shot, fantasize every movement
And imagine every inch of your dream

No one said it had to be real
But it's gotta be something you can reach out and feel

Not only do I want you to write down what your dreams are, I want you to daydream about and record the details of your dreams. 

Do you want to write a book? If so, what would the title be? What do you want the cover art to look like? Is there a particular font that you want the type to be in? If so, what is it?

I want you to get down to specifics. Do you want to be on Oprah for your accomplishments? What will you wear when you appear on the show? Personally, I'd love to be on Ellen, Ricki Lake or be on stage with RuPaul.

But those dreams are a little far off, for now. But, some of my dreams, I've already accomplished. I wanted to be a published author and I didn't want it to happen through some vanity press. I didn't feel, at the time, like my self-esteem could handle the rejection letters I'd have to get until I got a 'yes,' so I published my chapbooks of poetry, myself. 4 of them, to be exact. The titles were Fugitive Words from the Almond Cloud, Little Fugitives, To All the Boys and Womanic Life. In a later post I will share with you exactly how I published, printed and promoted these little guys and how you can publish your own book, too. You will be amazed at how easy it is!

One of my other dreams are that I want to be a regular fixture in a local parade like Jill Conner Browne and The Sweet Potato Queens. (If you haven't heard of this woman, yet, check her out. She's immensely funny and does some great charity work "for the chirrin"!) I'd love for my friends and I to ride on a float, dancing to music while wearing sequins just 'cause we can. And I'd like to invite all of the world to come and be in the parade with me. This dream goes hand-in-hand with my secret desire to be a female drag queen. *wink* 

I know. It's not a "cure breast cancer" kind of a dream, but it's one that I have and might be able to accomplish.

No matter how silly, record all your dreams. Every single one of them. And, when you begin to imagine them, maybe ideas will come to you about how you can make tiny steps to accomplishing them. Write these steps down, as well. It's important to record these steps so you're not forgetting them and losing all this important headway. 

Another silly dream of mine is to scream "I will triumph!" under the Arc de Triomphe a la Meg Ryan in the movie French Kiss.

So, my dears, what are your dreams? What are the silly, the noble, the wonderful dreams that are bouncing around in your head? What churnings and yearnings stir in your heart or tickle your fancy? What would you like to learn how to do?

I've created this blog as a means to reach out to you and help you, to create a community of creatives that can inspire and uplift each other. So talk back to me, beauties! I'd love to hear from you.

Please remember, you delicious souls, that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on new posts and up-to-the minute news from the Visionary Bri world.  I'd love to see you there!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gay Rights and the Artist as Revolutionary

This video has been buzzing around the internet, lately. This preacher in Springfield, Mo. went in front of the city council to speak out against gay marriage. At the "final minute," there is a surprise. Please watch the video all the way to the end.


When I finished the video, I wanted to hug him. Immediately, I sent out this email:

To the City Council of Springfield,

My name is Bri and I am writing to you, this evening, regarding the subject of gay rights. When I was 18 and in college, my best friends were gay men. Now that I am 31, all of my best friends are still gay men. Gay men peopled my baby shower. Gay men were the first non-family to hold my precious daughter when she was born. When my family has had financial trouble with bills and Christmas for our children, it has been my gay friends who have come through for us with monetary help, food and gifts. In turn, when they stumbled upon hard times, my family returned their generosity in kind. Gay people are my friends. They are my family because one of my cousins is gay. They are my support network, the shoulder that I cry on and the people that I trust.

This country that we live in, The United States, was not founded on religion or intolerance for that which is different from us. It was founded on the principles of freedom, meaning that we are all free to choose our life paths. We are free to our happiness, to help our neighbors and to tell our governing bodies what we think. Council, I say this to you. Gay people are not some "other," like black people were once considered, as well. They are not to be pushed aside, demonized or denied their rights. They are our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers and our families. But, more than that, they are citizens of the United States of America which used to be the country who led by example. We used to be "the land of the free." Can we still call ourselves that, anymore, if we don't give all of our citizens equal rights? If not, then where are we left? What do we stand for? Where do we go from here?

Council, I hope that you will keep these thoughts in your mind as you decide the issue and I hope that the wisdom I know you have will prevail. We can change the world. We can make it better for everyone. People all over this country are looking to you.

Thank you for your time,

Briana aka Visionary Bri

I don't often write letters to the political sphere. Though, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I did find that I could write letters to the office of the President and those pregnancy hormones did fire off a strongly worded letter or two. Want to write one too? Here's the web address.

I know that not all countries have even a portion of the freedoms that we have, here, in The United States. I also know that other countries give their citizens more freedoms than we have. At this point in time, I'm just trying to make my little corner of the world better for everyone around me. I'm not one of those that champions the country that I live in to be the best. It is only one of many. I'm very much in favor of world ideas, meaning ideas that bring us together, rather than divide us. I look forward to the day that everyone, no matter where they're from can truly be a citizen of this world and not just a citizen of a country.

In this world, it is the artists who give rise to movements. We question, we spur, we inspire. Artists dream revolutions and write about peace. If you are a creative person, this is your legacy. You can be a vehicle for change in the world through your art and in your life. That is one of the things I'm trying to do with this blog and, indeed, my entire creative arsenal.

What would you like to see change in this world? What are your revolutionary ideas? What causes do you champion?

Remember that we are all visionaries. We can all make a difference in this world. We just have to figure out where our passions lie and where we excel.

Happy Creating!


Don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Line Work

In my last blog post, Line Play, Zendoodle and Baby Steps, I talked about work with lines as well as discussing a form called Zentangle or Zendoodle. (Find a How-To on Zendoodle, here.) As you play with this concept in your sketchbook this week, I thought I would show you what I've been up to.

First, I thought I'd show you just a basic black line play that I did. I used my Zebra Emulsion EX pen in black that I have recently gotten as a free sample. I was just mucking about with this piece and it took me somewhere between 2 and 3 hours to do.

It's not much, but it's fun to do. You can see that I experimented with straight lines, curved lines, line thickness, line length and brevity and even "line" as negative space. Once you get started, it's really addicting.

Next, there is this one. This one is a line play like the last, but I used a blue Bic Mark-It Permanent Markers Ultra Fine Point. It bleeds a little, but I like Mark-Its and Sharpies for their vivid, vibrant colors. Once I know how a marker is going to bleed, I can work around it.

In this last drawing, I play with line and multiple colors. This is a doodle I've made since high school and it shows up in a lot of my pieces. In this piece, I used Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers, which I just love. I've left the insides of the shapes blank so you can see how just simple doodles with color can make interesting visual components.

Maybe later, I'll go back and add detail inside the doodles. But, even if I don't, I love how this doodle looks every single time I do it. There's no set pattern and each piece always unfolds second by second and I never know what the whole piece will look like until it's done. I like the spontaneity of the process, the surprise of the effect and the way I can make colors play off of each other. This is a doodle that I will probably draw for the rest of my life. Call it my signature piece.

What do you doodle? Was there something that you always drew on the back of your notebooks in school? Is there something you doodle in the margins while you're on the phone at work? If so, don't dismiss these little gems as "just a doodle." "Just a doodle" can turn into something pretty cool, if you just work with it a bit. Never ignore what you go back to, time and again. That means there is something worth exploring there. It means that there's something there that your mind and hand find interesting. And, if your mind finds it interesting, other people will too.

Keep on creating, my lovelies. Keep on art-ing.

And please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Line Play, Zendoodle and Baby Steps

When I was in college for visual art at a Buddhist university, one of my favorite professors gave me this assignment that he called Line Play. The assignment was to take a black pen and one sheet of paper and to explore making lines. He said he wanted us to work for at least one hour on one sheet of paper with just one black pen, playing with the idea of lines and how they can combine.

Such a simple idea, but the papers that were shown in class the next week? Each one was intricate, detailed, amazing and unique to each person. Great art is often born from simple ideas.

When my piece came into the classroom, there were dots in the picture. My professor asked me about them. Since this was a Buddhist university, the kinds of interactions that were allowed, there, were quite different than the state school I had attended earlier in life.

"Dots? Why dots?" my professor asked me. "Sir," I replied. "The assignment was to play with lines, correct?" "Yes," he answered, "Lines. Not dots." "Sir," I said, again, "what are dots but lines that haven't gone anywhere, yet?" My professor looked at me and smiled. These 'ah-ha' and surprising moments born of art education were the ones my professors and I lived for.

I loved that university. We had a class called "The Use of Gunpowder in Art" and we were always playing with ephemeral art which is art that is made, but that goes away or decays. Ephemera is art that is not permanent. It helps you distance yourself and not get your identity too wrapped up in your creations. Create, then release.

The head of the art department always said, "Surprise me! Sure, I give you assignments, but I want you to surprise me with what you bring in. I want you to take assignments and make them your own. Find your own style and do these assignments as only you can. Shake me up. Deviate. Play around with words and concepts."

This week, I got a new set of Bic Mark-It Permanent Markers . I was playing with them when my professors' Line Play exercise came back to me. "That's what Monday's inspiration for the blog is about," I thought. I did some research and I found this fun system called Zentangle. It is a teachable system uses lines and color blocks to create amazingly detailed pieces.

Look at these wonderful Zentangles that I've found around the internet. This first one works with lines, dots and symmetry for a very visually interesting piece.

This second has more black coloring in of spaces added to it. The above look is fine and complex while this look is more bold.

Finally, an example of how this type of intricate line work can be incorperated, maybe, into the art you might already be doing.

Isn't that just neat to look at? I know it looks hard and complex, but it's not. I used to doodle in my sketchbook like this all the time in high school and beyond, never knowing that there was a technique name for it until recently.

When you look at the whole piece of this kind of line work, it's really complex It makes the eye dance from section to section and your patterns become almost like visual texture. You can integrate this excersize into your life and that's what I'd like you to practice with, today. I know, it looks complex and hard to do. But all you have to do is start small. Start one little section. Only worry about that one little bit before moving on. Even the process of writing a blog seems a bit daunting at first, until you realize that you only need to write one post at a time. You don't need a year of content in your head at the beginning, no. All you need is one post to get you going. Just one. And that one will lead to one more and so on.

Baby steps. That's how I get things done. Baby steps and micro-movements and in pieces. It makes things not so overwhelming for me. My daughter is learning to walk, so the importance of baby steps is being played out right before my eyes. She didn't go from a little newborn who couldn't even lift her head to the toddler going across the living room unassisted for the first time, overnight. Who could expect her to? Why do with think that the entire project we've got in our heads, we need to have fully planned out before we even begin? Think like that and you'll never get started on anything.

So, this Zentangle and Zendoodle stuff can be a great life lesson. Baby step by baby step, we can make something amazing. If this Line Play idea sounds neat to you, here's a video tutorial that I found to get you started.

Other tutorials can be found around YouTube. Just search for "Zentangle" or "Zendoodle." There's also a whole series of books dedicated to this technique to continue to inspire you on your way.

Play with this in your sketchbook journal this week and see what you come up with. Maybe, if you decide you like it, you can start playing with line and color.

As you go about your week, I want you to remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and get up-to-the-second information on me and what I'm doing. Let's connect with each other. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Hope You Dance

The title of the post, today, comes from this song by Lee Ann Womack:

What a beautiful song, don't you think? It's one of the songs I sing to my Precious Little Pookie of a daughter.

Over the weekend, I'd like to encourage you to dance. I want you to dance like no one is looking. I want you to start out by dancing in your home. Bust a move! I don't care if you do it in your bedroom, alone. Boogie down, my lovelies. This life is too short not to dance.

Now, a story of dancing. I come by my flair for the creative honestly, and you must understand that dancing out in public when there's really no music playing is an advanced level for visionaries. I got my sense of play from my father. Keep your sense of humor intact in life and you never know the joy that will come from it. Example:
My father and I were standing in a parking lot, chatting. Across the aisle of cars, a college kid and his girlfriend where loading sacks into the back of their car. The boy was singing at a pretty loud volume some song I'd never heard before. I dropped the conversation with my father and immediately started dancing. My father was confused for a minute, looking at me, puzzled. Then, he heard the singing and started dancing with me. To one college student's sheer joy of voice, we shook our booties for a little over a minute before the singing guy turned around and saw what we were doing. When he realized we were singing to the music he was making, he and his girlfriend broke out in laughter. At that moment, a white car drove through the parking lot between us. The driver of the car waved at singing guy and danced behind the wheel as she passed. Everyone laughed their heads off. My father said, "Life is short. You've got to have fun." I put my arm around my father and said, "Dad, welcome to my life" and he pulled me in for a hug.

 My father holding my 1-day-old daughter, the Precious Pookie.
He bought the lamb hat for her that morning and it was bigger than her whole head.

There's a song that I've been hearing everywhere, lately, by a group called Fun. In a shoe store, on the radio. This song is everywhere and I am absolutely in love with it. I'm so completely taken with this song that I really want to have coffee with Nate Ruess (which is an honor held for the likes of Meat Loaf, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Davis, Henry Rollins, Alex Grey and Ed Kowalczyk). The drum line of this song is wonderful and it makes me not only wanna bring my djembe out of storage, but it makes my butt wanna boogie. So, no matter where I am when I hear this great piece of music, I do a little dance.  I've also been listening to it on repeat in my headphones and in the car, by the way.

My only question, beautiful Mr. Ruess, is why did you let them AutoTune your voice? It's wonderful without that artificial sound.

So, my readers, this weekend and as you go about your life, when you hear this song, I'd like you to dance a bit if you feel like it. Yes, I'd like you to boogie in the shoe store. Yes, jive in the drivers' seat. Yes, do your little turn in the grocery store. Bop your head and groove on the bus.

And I want you to do this because every time I hear the song, I promise to boogie, as well. Dancey-dance with me, please? Wibble-wobble with me, no matter where you are in the world. Move your body a bit in a way that feels happy to you.

Life is too short to not dance. Let's dance together, shall we? Maybe we can get others to join in and spread the joy! Let's make some impromptu dance parties, shall we? Spreading joy in the world is always a worthwhile thing.

Until next time, my lovelies, remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Childlike Empress

Because of this nurturing creativity venture I've undertaken, I get to hear things from people that no one else hears. I ask people, "What are you creative dreams? If money, schooling and talent were no object, in a completely ideal world, what would you do?" The answers I get to these questions are always striking.

I get to hear the secrets in your heart. I get to hear your hopes and your dreams that may have been squelched along your life path. I get to hear those small, fragile, glimmering bits of life that have, sometimes, been kept quiet for years. I get to hold them in my hands and feel their faint heartbeats against my palms.

I feel like the Childlike Empress from the movie The Neverending Story. I am passing to you the twinkling bit of hope that you need to make all your dreams come true. In turn, you entrust me with the safekeeping of the world that dreams are made of. I get to lean in close, admire your precious wishes and whisper to them, "Grow!"

And, I'd like to tell you something that may surprise you. I have never, not once, heard a dream from someone that I would say was dumb, silly, frivolous, or not worth pursuing. Can you believe that? Not one!

It takes lots of courage to dream in this world that seems like it tries to knock us down at every turn. It takes a lot of guts, sometimes, to even say our delicate desires out loud. I feel so privileged and honored to be trusted with the knowledge of these cherished little bits of your soul.

Doing anything new and creative is, in itself, revolutionary. It means that you've dared to challenge any number of things set in front of and expected of you. You're challenging your station in society, what other people want for you, what people might think of you, your current job, even your view of yourself.

As I go about my daily life, I get to hear colorful little sparks of hope. The other day, I was in a large department store looking at muffin tins and it just so happened that a stranger struck up a conversation with me. This happens to me a lot, so I don't mind. It started with him asking me where he could find a good pizza stone and it ended with me giving him my card. Do you want to know what his dream was? It was to open a "gourmet" soup kitchen, based on the principle that healthy eating enriches our lives. He would serve fresh veggies and fruits, no over-processed things. All based on the idea that good, nutritious fuel put in us enriches our lives in ways that chemicals can't. Isn't that an amazing idea?

Another gentleman who sold televisions for a living told me a couple of weeks ago about wanting to open a doughnut truck that sold various and novelty kinds of doughnuts. Doughnuts with interesting and striking ingredients. He'd cater to both the last call and before work crowd, working at night instead of during the day.

Don't both of these ideas sound awesome? Don't they sound enriching to the world and worth pursuing? I certainly think so. I know I'd patronize a nifty doughnut truck. Wouldn't you? Sure you would! It sounds like a nifty thing to try. And, as for serving whole, raw, unprocessed and nutritious foods to those down on their luck? I don't think I've ever heard an idea more worthwhile and noble.

And these are only two of the dreams that have been told to me over the past month!

My best girl friend's dream was to have a baby. Again, such a wonderful dream. I'm happy to say that she's due on Valentine's Day and that I have been invited to witness the birth of her daughter. I've never seen a woman giving birth, so I think I'm just as excited about February as she is. Not to mention the fact that our daughters will only be a year apart and they can grow up, together.

There are so many wonderful ideas that rest in your hearts, out there. I want to encourage you to chase after each and every one. I want your lives to overflow with possibility and joy. If only half of these ideas that we carry inside us can be made manifest in this world, just think about how much greater the world will be for having them!

I'd like to invite you to tell me your dreams. Leave a comment or email me at brifloorwilson@gmail.com, if you're more comfortable with that. I try to reply to everything and I can't wait to hear from you!

Remember that we are all visionaries, my lovelies. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inner Critics and Niggling Doubts

What would you say if I told you that your best and most powerful tool in your creative arsenal, you already posses? And what would you say if I told you that your biggest hindrance to that bountiful, glorious, creative life that you want, you already have, as well? I'm sure you'd agree with me about that second question, rather than the first. Why are we so ready to believe the negative things about ourselves, rather than the positive? I'll tell you why. Because we've all got those same little doubting, niggling little voices in our heads. The most powerful tool we have and the biggest hindrance to us is the same. It's our own brains.

Think about it. Who's the person that most often tells you that you "can't" do something? Who is the person that beats you up for attempting something new and failing? Who is the person that sees everything wrong with us, from how our bellies are too fat to how much better of a car we should be driving? That's right. It's the voices on our own heads.

Sure, the voices in our heads may take the shape of someone we know, or that we have known in the past, but it's our own brains that replay these tapes of their voices over and over throughout the course of our lives.

For me, sometimes those horrid little voices take the form of kids I went to school with. Sometimes, the voice is that of my own mother. But, most often, that inner critic that points out every single little flaw in my life, however minuscule, is the voice of my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Regenbogen. She is no longer alive, so I feel empowered to actually state her name as the most horrible little voice that I've ever encountered which grates on my self esteem, downplays all my accomplishments and wears me down, mentally, to nothing but a nub.

Mrs. Regenbogen had absolutely no business teaching children. She was strict, stern and full of razor-sharp remarks that cut even the most gregarious and outgoing child's self-worth to the quick. Once, I was sick and I missed school. That night, my parents called her and put me on the phone with her to get my make-up work. I wanted to make sure that I had reached the right person. "Is this Mrs. Regenbogen?" I asked into the phone. "Yes," she replied. "Is this Mrs. Vera Regenbogen," I asked, again trying to confirm that I'd reached the right person. When she, again, confirmed her identity, I began to ask about my assignments.

The next day, before we began our lessons, Mrs. Regenbogen called me up in front of the class. "Bri, what's my name?" The tone in her voice withered me on the spot. In a small voice, my eye fixed on her terrifying gaze, I replied, "Um. . . Mrs. Regenbogen?" "Good!" The word that came from her mouth carried no innuendo of its meaning. "You call me that!" I dropped my head and concentrated, very intently, on my shoe laces. After she had humiliated me, she sent me back to my desk and began class for the day.

Thinking back on that year in school, I can't remember saying another word to her or in class, in general, unless I was singled out specifically. I spent the rest of that year with my head down, reading or drawing, trying desperately not to draw her attention to me.

I'm 31 years old, now, and I still carry the scary demon of Mrs. Regenbogen in my head. No matter what I do, it's never good enough and it always draws her ire. If a line I draw isn't perfectly straight, I can hear her snort in disapproval. If I happen to misspell a word while writing, her voice comes to the forefront of my thoughts, "I knew you could never do anything right," I can hear her spit at me.

Mrs. Regenbogen is dead. Part of me rejoices at this thought, but the deeper and wiser portion of myself knows that, really, it's my fault for carrying her memory around and letting her undermine me from the grave. It's my brain (in her voice) that's criticizing me. It's not really her. She's living rent-free in my head and I'm letting her do it. It's the same with all those wheedling and annoying voices in your head.

Whenever Mrs. Regenbogen, the kids in my class or my mother's voice come to the front of my brain, I have to take active measures to not let them get to me. I've learned that ignoring them doesn't do much good. They only get louder. For me, I have to acknowledge them and I do this in a couple of ways.

The first way I can get them to shut up is just to give my brain what it wants. I turn the page in my sketchbook and I let those nay-saying voices run rampant. I write down every hurtful thing they say. I give them free reign to criticize me, pull me down and make me feel like crap until they've said their piece. Most of the time, I can then just turn the page, forget them and continue along my merry way, relieved that they're gone. Other times, I sit down with each of their negative things and I write out whatever response I want to give them. Here are some examples of this:

You're too fat.
Not as fat as you (Mrs. Regenbogen was a rotund woman). At least I don't have anorexia and look like a skeleton. At least I still get invited to dinner parties. And so what if  I am? My hubby loves cooking for me and we still have an awesome sex life. I still know how to enjoy myself, so which one is more important?

You never did learn how to spell.
So what? That's what spell-check and editors are for! I may be a bad speller, but my bad spelling is putting food on the table for my editors' children and I don't see anything 'bad' about that.

All your friends are just pretending to like you.
And? If they are, they pretend pretty damn well AND did I mention that I still get invited to dinner parties? Plus, one of my friends invited me to witness her baby being born. I don't think that's a pretend gesture.

Who do you think you are, attempting to dispense advice? You're not all that special.
Well, apparently there are other people who think differently because my blog gets comments from people I don't know and the response seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Plus, have you seen all the list of countries that people live in who are reading what I write? Pretty damn impressive, wouldn't you say? And I get new countries added to the list and new readers every week, so there!

See? Our greatest hindrances and our most powerful weapon against them is our own brains. For this week, in your sketchbook, whenever those nasty inner critics rear their heads, I want you to write it down. I want you to write down or draw all that negative stuff that's running around in your brain. Get it out of you. Let all the negativity and vitriol flow down on the page until there's nothing left to say. Let this take as long as it needs.

After it's all down on the page, I want you to answer all the voices in writing. Tell them exactly what you think about them. Do you have a writing teacher in your past that gave you an 'F' and tore your creative pieces to shreds? Tear them a new one on the page. You can be as mean as you want to be to them. At one point, I had an elemenry art teacher who offered commentary on a clay sculpture that I was particularly proud of, a mask of Princess Leia. "It looks like you've put this through the spin cycle," she said. In my sketchbook, I countered her. I'm an adult, now. I can stand up and I can tell her exactly what I think of her. In my sketchbook, I wrote:

"You know what? I was really proud of that sculpture. I thought it was the best thing I'd ever created, at the time. And I'm still proud of it. I don't care if you think it looks like "it's been through the spin cycle." Have you ever seen Jackson Pollack's work? What would you have said to him? You fat, old, bitter woman, you have no business teaching children. Children should be encouraged and celebrated, not used as defenseless verbal punching bags for adults who are insecure in their own lives. How dare you insult me! How dare you embarass me in front of peers who already thought I was strange! You were a teacher and, thus, in a position of authority. When you make fun of a child, the other children take that as free license to pick on each other and that's not right! You're a horrible person and you've never made any positive impact on anyone. You were an art teacher. You had a sacred trust placed in you by The Creator to teach, enoucrage and nourish the creative-selves of young children, not create deep emotional scars that follow them into adulthood. I grew up and have been able to come back and tell you that you are full of shit, but others haven't been so lucky. Now, I'm out in the world healing the scars that you and others like you have made in the beautiful, gentle souls of the world. So you can just sit down, shut up, and fuck off 'cause I'm done with what you said to me and I'm done with you!"

The feeling of getting all of that out there? So awesome! So empowering to finally tell that woman off, even if it was only in my own head. This week, I encourage you to do the same. Take back your power. Write it down and let your inner bullies know that you will no longer be standing for any of their crap. You're an adult and you're in control, now. Their residence in your head is no longer welcome. As Wesley Snipes says in the movie To Wong Fu,

 "Approval neither desired nor required!"
Go rent To Wong Fu, if you haven't seen it already. Awesome movie!
If you like, after you finish, you can destroy the sheets of paper you've unloaded on. Taking them out in the back yard and setting them on fire is very freeing. Burying them can work, too, but I find that burning pages is an especially liberating way of releasing that energy back into The Universe so it can be recycled back to us as something positive and uplifting.

Remember, you're not alone. We all have inner critics and niggling doubts when we attempt something new. Don't let them get you down. I'm here to be your cheerleader. You can do it! You don't have to be controlled by your past. You can let it go. You can put it down and not carry it with you. You can be free!

And, most of all my lovelies, please remember that we all, yes all of us, are visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

An Eye Out for Animal Medicine

Because I was raised in a Native medicine tradition, I notice things that the majority of people tend to miss or overlook. One of these things is the different kinds of Medicine at work and assisting me on this journey that we call life. In this context, "Medicine" is akin to magic, signs or influences from The Creator.

In pretty much all Native traditions that I know of, Spirit (The Creator, The Great Mystery or God) sends little messengers to humans in order to alert them to various things. Once you learn about the various creatures in the world and their Medicine, you can become more attuned to the world around you.

How does that help with creativity, you ask? Well, let me tell you a little story of something that happened to me, recently.

When the idea of teaching the Visionary Voices classes hatched in my head, I wasn't sure if it was something that was actually worth pursuing. Driving back from the grocery store in the Visionary Van, I was mulling the concept of these classes over in my head. What lessons could I teach? What format could I use? These and many other questions bumped around in my head like bouncy balls. It was then that I stopped at a stop light and happened to look down toward the hood of the van and this is what I saw.

A grasshopper was clinging to my windshield wiper, right in front of me. I laughed. "So what?" you say. "It's just a grasshopper!" But, wait. Other people would dismiss such a visit from this jolly little bug. Me? I laughed because I know about Medicine. Grasshopper Medicine comes to us in times when we need to leap, sometimes with nothing but faith as to where we will land.. Grasshopper teaches us to "take a leap of faith," as it were.

Here I was in my new Visionary Van (a manifestation of dedication to this path), thinking about launching an entirely new idea and kind of unsure about it. Suddenly, at this time of my considering a new direction, Grasshopper shows himself to me. A ha! Voila! Look! A sign from the Universe that I'm on the right path. It may look like a coincidence, but this is how Medicine works. See how wonderful and life-affirming such signs can be?

Another example is when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was driving along the same street, oddly enough, on my way to one of my prenatal classes. At the time, I was thinking about the little girl in my belly and how my life was going to change after bringing her into this world.

Again, I was sitting at a stoplight, not 2 blocks from the hospital I would have her at, when a beautiful little shining blue dragonfly landed on my windshield. Again, I knew my Medicine. Dragonfly is a guide that assists a person with change. With the baby, there would be many changes that would be happening in my life. At the time, I was reading tons of parenting books and I was very frustrated with each book trying to push some sort of agenda on me. Dragonfly helps lead us past the illusions that we carry and leads us to change the habits which are holding us back. Such a wise little bug, don't you think?

Once, in the middle of a meditation project I was working on, my car was invaded by a swarm of little black ants. I had no food that was left in the car and the car had been parked in a garage. I was very annoyed with the little invasion for a couple of days until I realized that Ant was probably trying to tell me something. Ant is the medicine of focusing on the details. Ant would be an editor's best friend. Often, I can see a project that I would like to see manifest in the future, but I have problems with seeing the little steps, daily, that I need to take to get there. Ant tells us and helps us to focus. When I had gotten the message and focused on what I needed to, the black swarm went away on its' own. Talk about a wake up call!

Creatures make themselves known to us can act as guides. We can find signs for knowing which creative paths are worth pursuing, which risks to take, and where we should hold back a bit. When you have a question about your next step in your journey, hold the question in your mind. Mull it over when you're driving or walking outside. And, while you're mulling, keep an eye out for critters. Do any plop themselves in front of you or call your attention to them? (I've had squirrels drop nuts on my head to get my attention, before.) If a critter makes itself known, go home a do a quick net search for "*insert animal here* medicine." There are tons of sites that discuss the Medicine of creatures. See what the critter may be trying to tell you and it might just be the nudge you need to, in the case of Grasshopper, take a "leap."

What kinds of Medicine do you see at play in your life? What critters are making themselves known? What are they telling you? I'd love to know!

And remember, my beautiful ones, that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Absinthe Drunk and God-Mad


Recently, the wonderful drink of absinthe  has become legal in the United States, where I reside. 

When I was in college, my friends and I would order bottles of this famed liquor from places like The Czech Republic. We thought we were so counter-culture and in-the-know, at the time. Our bottles arrived at our doors in nondescript, brown cardboard boxes marked "Text Books." The DEA probably had too much on its' plate, worrying about cocaine coming over our borders and meth being made in bathtubs. So, I suppose that it didn't have time to worry about a bunch of artistic, rebellious and self-proclaimed bohemian college students sneaking in a bottle of barely-known and culturally outdated alcohol

Visionary Friends: Invisible Vanguard

My friend, Yorgo, wrote this blog post. I think it adequately sums out how my "gap generation," in general feels about life. Please also feel free to browse around his little corner of these interwebs, Invisible Vanguard and tell him that Visionary Bri says "Hi."

There's a kind of malaise that's come over us and, in the wake of George Bush Jr. and so many people trying like hell to drag us backwards into a less tolerant society, it's very easy to get downhearted. I will always be hopeful that things, for everyone, can be better. Yet, I know that we can feel lost, sometimes. If I didn't acknowledge this general ennui, I would be doing a great disservice to those around me.

I put this on my personal Facebook page, saying "I just had to repost this, because I feel like this, sometimes. 'We have do so much, yet we feel the future will never be better for us.' Le sigh:"

Receptionist: Don't you feel like your generation is just lazy?
Person: Lazy? I'd say apathetic.
Receptionist: Isn't it the same?
Person: No. My generation is criticized and toiled with, and I don't see why not - just turn on the TV and watch what they're feeding us. But my generation is not lazy. My generation fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. My generation fought for women's rights in a fury that hadn't been seen since the 19th Amendment. My generation got our first black President elected. My generation fought for Gay rights for the first time in American history. And with all that, we are apathetic, and that's because things aren't going to be better for us down the road. We are the first generation expected to make less than our parents. We are the first generation to see America lose its status as a super power. We've lived through the worst economic times since the Great Depression, and are forced to take out thousands of dollars in student loans at the same time, all while our college degrees slowly turn into a high school diploma. We've done plenty, and expect nothing. So no, I wouldn't say we're lazy, just apathetic."
So, what do you think? Does this reflect how you feel in the world? Any suggestions about how we can get ourselves, as a group, out of this funk we seem to be in?
 I look toward personal empowerment. How about you?


Friday, October 5, 2012

10 Minutes to Get You Started

So, you've gotten yourself a sketchbook, you've made it your own and maybe you've even written a contract with yourself on the first page. What is the next step?

The next step, my dears, is for you to . . . use the journal! No. YES! To use the sketchbook and write, draw or paint in it every day.

The next step is 10 minutes. 10 minutes, Bri? Yes, my lovelies. For your first foray, just 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creative In the Kitchen: Kinda Apple Pie

The other night, I got a craving for apple pie. Never one to just stuff my desires down, I headed to the kitchen. Only two pie crusts remained in our freezer and my hubby had already claimed them in the name of black raspberry cream pie, so I was out of luck. . . or so I thought.

Eyeing the beautiful green Granny Smith apples on the table, I did a little more thinking. What was it that I really wanted? Did I care that my apple pie might not have a crust? No! I sure didn't. So, I got to work.

I sliced the apples into rings and then cut the cores out of them. I pulled out a medium sized skillet and melted two tablespoons of butter. In the pan went the apple rings. On top of the apples, I drizzled some honey and sprinkled on some cinnamon and nutmeg. I flipped the apple rings honey side down and let them brown on the heat at just a bit below medium.

The aroma of the cooking apples and cinnamon filled the house. On such rainy days that we've been having lately, it really felt like a warm, cozy Fall. Hubby came to see what I was cooking at 10 o'clock at night, his nose twitching. I ended up cooking 2 apples, then hubby said that he didn't want one of his own. But, when I came into the bedroom with the bowl, he snatched a couple of pieces for himself.

The recipe for these beauties is really non-specific. Melt, slice, drizzle and sprinkle. And, oh my, were they lovely. They completely satisfied my apple pie desire. The tartness of the Granny Smith apples was a nice contrast to the caramelized honey. I let them remain a little al dente because I prefer the texture that way, but I'm sure that you could cut them up smaller and stew them like they do at The Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Don't you just want to go and make some for yourself, right now?

So, necessity and a rumbling tummy are apparently the mother of creativity for today. What have you tried in the kitchen (or elsewhere) that turned out really well?

We're all visionaries, darlings. We just have to figure out where we excel.